Samuel Moeti was convicted for murder and entered prison a broken and bitter man, but now, things have changed drastically.
Samuel grew up in a confusing situation. He was born into a family who considered themselves Christians but then slaughtered animals to worship their ancestors. Their chief source of income came from selling liquor from home.
With no one to mentor him, Samuel left school at the end of primary school and ran wild. "I became a thief, murderer and a drunkard," he admits unhappily. "Stealing and lying was who I was. I was full of pride and ingratitude. I used alcohol to avoid facing real life."
Things took a very bad turn for Samuel when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
"I shot and killed an innocent farmer," Samuel shares sadly. "I robbed a lot of people and also handled guns and bullets."
While in prison, Samuel was diagnosed with HIV and aids which really scared him and made him realise he needed to sort out his life for the sake of his girlfriend and daughter on the outside.
"I really needed spiritual enlightment," he states. "Before imprisonment, I never sought God. I thought I would be in right standing with Him if I bought the right Gospel music and books. I was taught to believe that obeying the Church doctrine made me saved. How very ignorant I was!"
Samuel had a zeal to become a child of God when he saw young men in prison being used tremendously by the Lord.
"I told myself that if God could use them, He could use me as well!"
In 2001, Samuel became a follower of Christ. At the time, he felt lonely and missed home, his health status was a big worry for him and he just knew he needed Someone greater than him to depend on.
"I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart," he says excitedly. "I believed it in my heart and confessed it with my mouth: Jesus Christ is Lord!
"There is no life without God," Samuel realised. "Without Him you are lifeless without a direction. Jesus is the only way. He will give you peace – even in prison."
Samuel has already served 19 years, but he considers his incarceration a blessing.
"It was a blessing in disguise," he says, "because I met God here and He has changed my life for the better. If I had not come here, I would surely be dead by now and I would not have the joy, peace and purpose I have right now.
"I am a better person. God has blessed me with education, skills and talent. I finished school, earned various diplomas and certificates and have learnt to play the keyboard. I am a responsible father and husband. I managed to achieve all this through the Lord Jesus Christ."
Samuel also has qualifications in human resources, management, computers and plumbing! He has registered his own Christian ministry, written some books and owns two companies. If he leaves prison, he would love to be a full time pastor.
"I want to impart my knowledge of God to those who are still in the dark," Samuel says. "I want to bring as many as I can to Jesus through my ministry."
A Bible verse that Samuel feels summarises his story is part of 1 Samuel 7:12, which says "Thus far the Lord has helped us."•